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The Year of Shadows - Claire Legrand, Karl Kwasny Originally posted at Gypsy ReviewsI received an eARC from the publisher, thanks!The Year of Shadows was such a satisfying and enjoyable read, it was endearing and had some very strong messages about family, letting go, forgiveness and friendship. It is an exemplary example why I love Middle Grade books and will always continue reading them, no matter that I’m way beyond the years for reading middle grade.Olivia lives in the concert hall now because her father’s orchestra is losing money quick, her mother’s left and all she has left is her grandmother. Olivia refuses to acknowledge her father, even going to the extent that she now refers to him as the Maestro. Things aren’t going well for her at school either, her only comfort is being able to draw in her sketchbook. I loved Olivia and I wanted to reach out and hug her. No child her age should have to deal with this kind of burden, of not having their mother around and having to worry about money and living conditions and taking care of her grandmother. She was so mature for her age and even going to find work herself so she doesn’t have to keep asking the Maestro for money? :’( Sketching on napkins when her sketchbook ran out of pages? *sobs quietly*A large part of the story is about Olivia and the Maestro’s relationship and her coming to terms and trying to forgive him because she blames him for her mother leaving. It is easy to relate to Olivia because when something like this happens, naturally you find someone to blame and you concentrate all that energy and pain into that one person. It was a way for Olivia to cope with her mother’s departure and the state of her living conditions. But I really loved how slowly but gradually, Olivia find out there’s more to the entire picture and realises, her mother has left yes. But she can’t do anything about it and neither can the Maestro. She has to accept that and to appreciate what she does have.It was so interesting to see Henry and Olivia’s friendship bloom, Olivia was so hesitant to acknowledge Henry even as a friend. It only just started as a partnership to the whole ghost situation but then they become really good friends. I love stories like this, you’re never going to fully trust someone when you’re in such a vulnerable state but as time goes by, you realise that you can trust them because even after everything, they’re still here. It was so endearing and sweet to read about :3It was so perfect that I had to make a Reasons to Dislike Henry Page list and keep it in my sketchpad so I could look at it whenever I caught myself thinking it might actually be okay to like him. (7%)Igor is a cat who needs his own TV show. You will love him. Full stop.I was expecting the ghost component to be a lot scarier and creepier but I’m glad it went another direction. Some of the stories behind the ghosts were just so sad and powerful. Stories about a love of music, between siblings and a father’s love. It was very hard for me to let them go too after getting a little attached to them and Olivia definitely felt the same way. I loved that part when she proclaimed the ghosts, her ghosts. It might seem possessive and stuff but it spoke of how much she had grown to like them and how attached she was to them now.The writing is beautiful as well, here are some of the quotes I highlighted on my Kindle.Dreaming tells us who we are and scrubs away the bad days (23%)When people get caught up in watching something, their faces change. The lines on their faces get softer, because whatever they’re watching has made them forget how they think they’re supposed to be looking instead, they just are – just sitting there, listening and watching and being real. (76%)As I was reading an eARC, the illustrations were all sketches and I couldn’t see them fully because somehow they got resized on my Kindle but I did see some of the finished illustrations somewhere on Twitter and WOW THEY’RE BEAUTIFUL. I might just get a finished copy for myself :3I cannot wait to read Legrand’s other book, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls which I have on my Kindle! If you’re into MG, you definitely have to read her novels. You can be sure I’ll be purchasing her books in the future ;)Verdict: If you love MG you gotta read it. If you want to get into MG, this might be the book to go with!-----------------Incredibly endearing and has some pretty powerful messages inside about family, friendship, forgiveness and letting go. -- Full review to come!